Loving as Jesus Christ Loved the Church: Being a Godly Husband
- Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Today's post will make the subject uncomfortable. He might even be a little angry at me. Men and women who serve God with humility squirm when they receive praise. But I don't care. I have to tell you his story. One of the problems with our cultural Christianity is that we too often confuse giftedness and godliness. Someone may be gifted at speaking or writing or singing and we elevate that person in our spiritual estimation. God uses gifted people to be sure. But I am learning that God can use a regular person who is truly reflecting Jesus in ways that are supernatural.
That brings me to my friend Bob. Yesterday I wrote about his beloved wife Susan finally being at rest with Jesus after a tortured battle with cancer. Susan was blessed with one of the most amazing husbands I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Bob Flickner has had a more profound impact on my walk with the Lord and on my marriage in the past three years than any person I know. And I cannot remember a single word that he has said to me about either topic. He simply showed me and others what it looks like to follow Jesus no matter what the circumstance. I like to talk and write about faith. I have been accused of being verbose in both areas. But it is easy to talk and write. What Bob has done is tough. He has lived his faith every day during an incredibly difficult trial.
Bob has been at Susan's side throughout her entire battle with cancer. Susan developed a rare and devastating neurological disorder as a result of her cancer and Bob became her full-time caretaker for over two years. I know he got discouraged but I never heard Bob complain. He never griped about the tough hand that he and Susan had been dealt. Together they trusted God in every moment. Bob cared for Susan with a dedication and love that embarrasses me. Bob went for months sleeping only minutes at a time and yet he served and loved his wife without a whimper. I have to admit I have a hard time listening to people whining over insignificant little hassles and slights when I see what people like Bob and Susan endure with grace and dignity.
Bob had pledged to love Susan through better or worse and, unlike so many of us, he stuck to the pledge. Does the average man really understand what he is saying on the wedding day? That is a vow we make to our mates. It is not something that we hope to do or will try to do. It is a vow. Bob may not have realized the full implication when he said words like these over thirty years ago.
I Bob, take you Susan, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
But whether he comprehended the magnitude of those words or not, Bob kept his vow. And he did it in a way that was so powerful that it has changed me. When Joni was diagnosed with cancer I had already seen what it looked like to love your wife in sickness. Bob had demonstrated what it meant to cherish your bride when things took a turn for the worse. Because of his example I was a better helpmate to Joni as she began her cancer journey. Every time that I even began to take a turn down the "Pity Path" I thought of Bob and Susan. I reflected on how much more Bob had endured as he loved Susan. And I refused to go down that path of self-pity.
I grew up in a church where the men loved to quote Ephesians to the women folk.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. Ephesians 4 NLT
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